Kariye Camii has the best collection of mosaics and early Christian artwork in the entire city, Saint Sophia included. Almost every square foot of this tiny structure seems to be adorned with Christian paintings or mosaics. My photographs do not do the place justice. Try to keep extremely still on your timed exposures. The museum wisely does not allow flash photography.
The Anastasis, depicting Christ dominant over Satan in chains and opening the tombs of Adam and Eve, is one of the most astonishing and important works of art in the whole of Europe. Unfortunately, it is not bathed in good lighting. For this you must hold your breath, set your camera to the proper exposure, and keep perfectly still by leaning against the wall. There is no more dramatic Christian image from the time of the emperors in all Istanbul.
More Christian artwork inside the museum. Certain relics are difficult to set up for a photo, while others which offer more room to manuever do not enjoy enough light for a timed exposure. Try to visit often and note what hours the sun enters the windows.
I was there on Tuesday,so it's closed on Wednesdays,not Tuesdays,as some people say.Kariye is located at Edirnekapi section of Istanbul. The dictionary meaning of Kariye (Chora) is "outside of the city", or "rural" in old Greek. The existence of a chapel outside the city walls in very old is mentioned in some sources. The first Khora Church was built on the site of this chapel by Justinianus.
The building which managed to survive until the times of the Commenos with various additions and repairs, gained importance when the Imperial Palace Blakhernia near the city walls was expanded.
At the end of 11th century Maria Dukaina, the mother-in-law of Emperor Alexi I had it rebuild. The church has a kiborion shaped space whose dome is carried by four arches. During the Latin occupation of 1204 - 1261, both the monastry and the church became extremely run down. During the reign of Andronikos (1282 - 1326), one of the prominent names of the day, the writer, poet and the minister of treasury Theodore Methocite had the monastry and the church repaired towards 1313, and had an annex to the north of the building, an outer narthex to the west and a chapel (Parekklesion) to the south. These new additions were decorated with frescoes and mosaics. Parekklesion, which is a long single naved chapel going along the southern faзade, is built above a basement floor. It is partially covered with a dome and the remaining sections are covered by vaults. It has a single abscissa. The outer narthex which runs along the full western facade forms the present faзade. The northern wing is only an insignificant corridor. The central dome has a high drum. It is a Turkish period restoration and is made of wood. Outer faзades are given plasticity and movement with round arches, half braces, niches and rows of stone and brick. The eastern faзade is finished with abscissa extending to the exterior. The middle abscissa is supported with a half arched brace.
The building was used as a church after the conquest of Istanbul but was converted into a mosque in 1511 by the Visier Grand Hadým Ali Pasha, who later added a school and a alm kitchen next to it. After the conversion, the mosaics and frescoes were covered, sometimes by wooden blinds and sometimes by whitewashing over them. All the mozaics and frescoes were uncovered with the work carried out by the American Institute of Byzantine Research between 1948 - 1958. Chora mosaics and frescoes are the most beautiful examples of the last period of Byzantine art (14th century). They show a striking similarity. The monotonous background of the former period cannot be seen here. The concept of depth, recognition of the placticity and movement of the figures and the elongation in the figures are the characteristic of this style. Scenes from life of Jesus are given on the outer narthex while the inner narthex has scenes from the life of Madonna.On the portal of the door joining the outer to the inner narthex, there is Christ the "Pantocrator". On the left the scenes depict the birth of Jesus, population cencus being carried out under the supervision of Governor Cyrinus, the angel telling Joseph to leave taking Mary with him, the multiplication of loaves of bread, water turning to wine and on the right side scenes such as messanger kings informing about the birth of Christ, healing of the stroke victims and the massacre of children.
The most beautiful mosaic on the inside is Deisis. There is Jesus in the center with Mary on the left, below Mary, Isaac Commenus and a nun on the right of Jesus. This woman is the daughter of the Mikhael Palaiologos VIII. She was married to the Mongolian Prince Abaka Khan and following her husband's death returned to Ýstanbul and became a member of a religious order. In this section, under the dome there is Jesus and his ancestors are shown in the segments. On the portal of the church proper, there is Christ in the middle and on the left Theodoros Metochites who has restored the church and adorned it with the mosaics presenting a model of the church. The life story of Mary, which is not included in the Bible is taken from subjects based on the Apostles. At the inner narthex the scenes about Mary can be followed depicting her birth, her first steps, Gabriel telling her that she shall have a child, Mary buying wool for the tebernacle and others. Mosaic above the inner portal of the entrance to the main church depicts the death of the Virgin, Madonna bearing the child Jesus and a Saint. Parekklesion is totally decorated with frescoes. The Anastasia (rebirth) scene seen on the abscissa is a masterpiece. The last judgement above it is shown here in full. It is known that the niche on the right and left sides of the Parekklesion are graves. On the dome of the Parekklesion there is Mary and the child Jesus and 12 in the segments.
The Museum of Chora or Kariye Museum is a treasure trove of wonderful mosaics and frescoes which depict various Biblical stories. Those related to the Virgin Mary are particularly interesting and the Dome depicting Jesus and his ancestors is also stunning. The word, Chora means land, country, and a suburb. The monastery was therefore named because it was built outside the city walls built by Emperor Constantine.It was originally built by Emperor Theodosius in 413 AD but over time rebuilt again rebuilt by numerous Emperors. The mosaics and frescoes were added in 1312. After 1453 when Istanbul was conquered by the Turks it was converted into a mosque and then a museum. Between 1948-1958 the American Byzantine Institute completed restoration of the museum.
Known officially as the Kariye museum, this now mosque used to be the Church of St. Saviour in Chora and is considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of a Byzantine church, thanks to its amazing fine mosaics and frescoes. It was originally built outside the walls of Constantinople, to the south of the Golden Horn, and dates from 1077-81, although a previous church was built on the site in the 5th century.
The powerful Byzantine statesman Theodore Metochites endowed the church with much of its fine mosaics and frescos of the interior which was carried out between 1315 and 1321. Around 50 years after the fall of the city to the Ottomans (in 1453), Atik Ali Pasha, the Grand Vizier of Sultan Bayezid II, ordered the church to be converted into a mosque — Kariye Camii. Due to the prohibition against iconic images in Islam, the mosaics and frescoes were covered behind a layer of plaster and were, I think, only revealed in the 1940's and 1950's when they were then opened to the public as a museum.
Open: 9am-5pm Thur-Tue. Admission: TL15.
This should be on everyone's Istanbul itinerary. In my view, this church has the best Byzantine mosaics that have survived. They are simply sublime. The present church dates to the 11th century, and it later served as a mosque after the fall of Constantinople. Chora is a little out of the way, and a little hard to find without a good map. Best to take a taxi there and back.
This old byzantine orthodox church is now a museum in which you can admire the beautiful frescoes and mosaics in its walls and domes.
Entrance: 6 euros. No flash allowed inside. Located near the Edirne Kapi, close to the City Walls.
This was the church center of a Byzantine monastic complex dating back to the time of Constantine though the present building dates to the 12th century and the main decorations are from the 14th century. Like other Byzantine churches, this was converted into a mosque, but unlike many of the others, like Aya Sofya, most of the magnificent mosaics were covered only by wooden screens - some of the lower mosaics were removed and the frescoes were whitwashed. The building was converted into a museum in 1948 and the only remaining Islamic element is the 19th century minaret found on the outside corner. Along with the Aya Sofya, this is the most important Byzantine monument to be found in Istanbul. See the travelogue for more. Next door is the Asitane Restaurant, highly recommended.
Lots of information regarding the church, the decorations, the neighborhood and the process of restoration to be found on the included website!
Obviously, where the windows are is where you'll get your best photos -- if the niche contains any artwork. Some of the best work is situated in a difficult niche or bay that often strains the neck. Trying with a lens is even more difficult.
The Church of St. Savior in Chora was built in the 11th century, during the Byzantine era. The original church dated back to the 4th century. After the Ottoman conquest, the Turks converted it into a mosque, and plastered over the Byzantine frescoes.
However, in 1947 this mosque was converted into a museum, and its frescoes were uncovered. The plaster had preserved them, so they are still magnificent to see. This is one of the world's finest collections of medieval Byzantine frescoes.
Built between 1316 and 1361, around an earlier church, the small brick building of St. Saviour in Chora (now called the Kariye Mosque Museum) contains some of the most wonderful and best preserved examples of Byzantine art anywhere.
The church’s patron, Metochites, a Byzantine scholar and politician ended his days as a monk at the church having been allowed to return after falling from power and spending two years in exile.
The mosaics found in the church portray scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary, the Day of Judgement and Heaven and Hell. The colours in the mosaics seem as vibrant and fresh as they were when first created. When the church was converted to a mosque in the 15th Century the mosaics were covered over with plaster rather than destroyed remaining so until the mid 19th Century, and this covering may have helped to preserve their appearance.
They are also intricately detailed and one of the pleasures of standing in front of them is being able look deeper into the images picking out different things with each sweep of the eyes, for instance one small beautifully realised scene where water is being poured from a pitcher into large earthenware pots.
Although slightly off the beaten path it is well worth taking a trip to the Kariye Camii to see these magnificent pieces of art.
Open: Mon-Tues, Thurs-Sun Closed: Wed.
Chora Church is an ummissable site in Istanbul. Here you can see the one of the best Byzantine mosaics as well as in Ravenna, Italy.
Chora Church, or "Church of the Holy Savivour Outside the Walls" was built during Constantine the Great's reign(A. D. 306- 337). But later, it was rebuilt in 11th century, and kept constructed for centuries. This church's main attractions, marvellous mosaics and fairly good frescos dates from 1312. They are funded by Theodoros Metochites, one of beaucrats during the reign of Andronikos II(1282-1328). During the Ottman Empire, this church was turned to the mosque, and mosaics and frescos were covered with whitewash and plaster. In the middle of 20th. century, they are removed, and this "mosque"was open as a museum.
Chora Church (Kariye Camii in Turkish) is the most interesting Byzantine church after Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. The importance of the church does not come from the building itself , the frescoes and the mosaics are superb and reflect the magnificient heritage of Byzantine Art. The Chora Church Museum is open every day from 9 a.m to 4:30 p.m except Wed.
Kariye Camii (Church of the Chora).
A mosque of tile mosaics. Just beautiful.
From the Byzantine Architecture Project:
'Described by Osterhaut as 'second in renown only to Hagia Sophia among the Byzantine churches of Istanbul', Kariye Camii attracts much attention because of its rich mosaics and frescoes. The original structure was built by the Holy Theodus in 534 in the reign of Justinian. In the 11th and 12th century, it was rebuilt by the Comnenus family and dedicated to Christ (thus the name, Christ in Chora). The structure suffered the great earthquake of 1296 and was later converted into a mosque in 1511 after the Turks conquered Istanbul. Since 1948, the building has been the Kariye Museum, a popular tourist attraction.'